Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Gerald McCoy said Wednesday that he thinks there will "be an uproar" if NFL players are forced to stand for the national anthem.
McCoy appeared on Adam Schefter's podcast "Know Them From Adam," where he responded to a statement released by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday. In the statement, the commissioner said "everyone should stand for the national anthem."
"I don’t think guys are gonna like it," McCoy said of the players’ possible reaction. "I think it’s gonna be an uproar if that is to happen because you’re basically taking away a constitutional right to freedom of speech. If guys wanna have a, I guess you would call it a peaceful protest, I don't think it's right to take that away." (sic)
The issue of kneeling during the anthem will be discussed during the NFL’s regularly scheduled fall meetings in New York next week, according to ESPN.
President Donald Trump tweeted a response to Goodell’s statement, claiming he was "demanding" players stand for the anthem.
The NFL issued a statement on Wednesday morning to clarify the league's stance on the issue, possibly in response to the president’s tweet.
The statement said commentary from the morning had not been accurate.
Commentary this morning about the Commissioner's position on the Anthem is not accurate. As we said yesterday, there will be a discussion of these issues at the owners meeting next week. The NFL is doing the hard work of trying to move from protest to progress, working to bring people together. Commissioner Goodell spent yesterday with Miami Dolphins players, law enforcement and community leaders witnessing first-hand the outstanding work our players and clubs are doing to strengthen their communities. Players from around the league will be in New York next week to meet with owners to continue our work together.
McCoy, who says he does not plan on kneeling during the national anthem, further voiced his support for his teammates who do.
"I had two teammates who did it, in Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson. That's their right to do that," McCoy said. "And if they're gonna do it, they're gonna have support of the whole team."
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on Sunday that any players on his team who disrespect the flag will not play. The Miami Dolphins also implemented a new policy making it mandatory for players on the field or sideline to stand during the anthem. Although, Dolphins players also have the option to remain in the locker room or the tunnel until the anthem is finished.